Matthew Wood and Dr. Bulkeley suspend their feud because Mercy's life is at stake. Mercy has fallen gravely ill with fever, and although the community's doctor has ridden out from Hartford to "bleed her" twice, she is not getting better. The young doctor has no further remedies to try, and Matthew Wood is desperate as he watches his daughter lie, near death, "on some remote borderland between sleeping and waking".
On "the fourth morning of Mercy's illness...Matthew (sits), turning the pages of the Bible, searching in vain for some hope to cling to". He finally announces that he is "going out for a time", but as he is leaving, the Reverend Bulkeley appears at his door. The Reverend and Matthew had been feuding about Matthew's political leanings in wanting to stand up to the British Crown for the colony's rights, but in this time of crisis, both men, sincere and loving men at heart, are more than willing to put their differences aside. Reverend Bulkeley tells Matthew, "you're a stubborn mule and a rebel, but this is no time for politics...time was your Mercy was like my own daughter...let me do what I can, with God's help, to save her", to which Matthew responds with a cry, "God bless you...I was coming to fetch you!" (Chapter 17).